This year had a dictator in office, Publius Cornelius Scipio, with Publius Decius Mus, master of the horse.
By these the election of consuls was held, being the purpose for which they had been created, because neither of the consuls could be absent from the armies.
The consuls elected were Lucius Postumius and Titus Minucius; whom Piso places next after Quintus Fabius and Publius Decius, omitting the two years in which I have set down Claudius with Volumnius, and Cornelius with Marcius, as consuls.
Whether this happened through a lapse of memory in digesting his annals, or whether he purposely passed over those two consulates as deeming the accounts of them false, cannot be ascertained.
During this year the Samnites made incursions into the district of Stellae in the Campanian territory.
Both the consuls were therefore sent into Samnium, and proceeded to different regions, Postumius to Tifernum, Minucius to Bovianum. The first engagement happened at Tifernum, under the command of Postumius.
Some say, that the Samnites were completely defeated, and twenty thousand of them made prisoners.
Others, that the army separated without victory on either side; and that Postumius, counterfeiting fear, withdrew his forces privately by night, and marched away to the mountains; whither the enemy also followed, and took possession of a strong-hold two miles distant.
The consul, having created a belief that he had come thither for the sake of a safe post, and a fruitful spot, (and such it really was,) secured his camp with strong works.
Furnishing it with magazines of every thing useful, he left a strong guard to defend it; and at the third watch, led away the legions lightly accoutred, by the shortest road which he could take, to join his colleague, who lay opposite to his foe.
There, by advice of Postumius, Minucius came to an engagement with the enemy; and when the fight had continued doubtful through a great part of the day, Postumius, [p. 624]
with his fresh legions, made an unexpected attack on the enemy's line, spent by this time with fatigue:
thus, weariness and wounds having rendered them incapable even of flying, they were cut off to a man, and twenty-one standards taken.
The Romans then proceeded to Postumius's station, where the two victorious armies falling upon the enemy, already dismayed by the news of what had passed, routed and dispersed them: twenty-six military standards were taken here, and the Samnite general, Statius Gellius, with a great number of other prisoners, and both the camps were taken.
Next day Bovianum was besieged, and soon after taken. Both the consuls were honoured with a triumph, with high applause of their excellent conduct.
Some writers say, that the consul Minucius was brought back to the camp grievously wounded, and that he died there; that Marcus Fulvius was substituted consul in his place, and that it was he who, being sent to command Minucius's army, took Bovianum.
During the same year, Sora, Arpinum, and Censennia were recovered from the Samnites. The great statue of Hercules was erected in the Capitol, and dedicated.